Five accomplished young performer-composers from Syria and Tunisia create new music inspired by Arab traditions and infused with influences from Western classical music and jazz. Performing on saxophone, clarinet, qanun, percussion, and strings (violin and viola d’amore), the artists represent a rising generation of cosmopolitan Arab musicians who blend music from their native lands and the broader world to create invigorating new sounds. The New Sounds project was developed by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and is made possible in part with support from Saudi Aramco.
Juilliard graduate Kinan Azmeh, clarinet, is a native of Damascus and has appeared worldwide as a classical clarinetist and improviser. His compositions include works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, and solo clarinet as well as film scores, dance soundtracks, and electro-acoustic music. Saxophonist Basel Rajoub, a native of Alleppo, studied European classical music and Middle Eastern music and jazz at the Damascus Higher Institute of Music. In 2006, he won the Radio Monte Carlo Award for his compositions. He has also recorded three albums of his own music. His unique Arab music for saxophone merges jazz and Middle Eastern influences and cultivates interregional collaborations through live performances, multimedia projects, and film scores. Jasser Haj Youssef, a native of Tunisia, is a string player and composer who blends the worlds of Arab and European classical music and jazz. He performs on the violin and the Baroque viola d’amore, whose resonant sympathetic strings ideally suit the modal melodies of Arab music. Feras Charestan performs regularly as a qanun soloist with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, as well as in the bands Roubai Toueis and Woujouh.
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